An educational camp that is developing virtual environmental field trips for students in Richland County is getting a boost to further its efforts: a $1,000 Conservation Education Mini-Grant.
The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) awarded the Mini-Grant to Camp Discovery, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit situated on 116 acres in Blythewood.
“Educational programming through Camp Discovery motivates, inspires and engages children by providing them a unique opportunity to be citizen scientists on the property at Camp Discovery, on their school grounds and now, more than ever, in their own backyards,” said Amy Ellisor, the camp’s executive director.
Founded in 1985, Camp Discovery aims to provide children and teens an ideal outdoor setting for year-round exploration and hands-on learning.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, staff are working with NASA’s Langley Research Center and Richland County school district leaders to transform the camp’s traditional Discovery Day field studies into equally engaging virtual field studies. Some programs have already been converted and are available to teachers, families and students to use, and more programs are being developed during the school year.
“Supporting the development of these virtual programs is especially important now, during COVID-19, because students need to have activities and experiences that will continue to encourage their learning about conservation, soil, air and water,” said Richland SWCD Commissioner Mary Burts.
“I hope this (Mini-Grant) funding helps Camp Discovery develop a resource that is not only useful now (when many students are engaged in virtual and hybrid learning), but something teachers can continue to use to enhance learning in their classrooms in future years,” Burts said.
K-12 schools in the County can apply for Conservation Education Mini-Grants in amounts up to $1,000 twice each school year. The next application deadline is Feb. 1, 2021.